April 11, 2012 - Marriage

Some people, myself included, feel that I had the perfect marriage.

That means my wife and I never argued, and never disagreed. Actually, that is not the case. But there is a secret to marriage that made all the difference.

My wife, Gwen was a brilliant woman who’s opinions I always took very seriously. If you ask my children they will tell you the same thing. But that doesn’t mean that we did everything her way.

Then again, not every decision we made went in my direction either. Married couples are made up of two people. Their thoughts are rarely identical, their expectations are not always in line with each other—at least initially, and their opinions may vary dramatically.

But instead of bringing conflict to marriage, it is possible to allow our differences to bring vitality instead. How do we accomplish that? I’m glad you asked. It is what I call the virtuous cycle of marriage.

Everyone has heard of a vicious cycle, where anger or conflict begins to rage and escalates with every round of dialog. The conflict is fed in a negative way and grows exponentially. The vicious cycle causes much harm to relationships—friends, family, children and spouses.

It is a profound enemy of marriage and must be actively fought. Look at it this way—if it ever reveals its ugly head in your relationship with your spouse, kill it. Although that sounds easy, I will be the first to admit it is not. One must be aware of its potential to arrive on the scene at any time and take over, and be prepared to refuse to feed it.

Immunity to the vicious cycle is a similar sounding, but much different cycle—the virtuous cycle. I call this immunity because—like many vaccines, it must be obtained in advance. If it is to protect our marriages, we must cultivate it over time. This is an essential aspect of any successful relationship, especially with our spouses.

The virtuous cycle begins in a marriage by doing things for your spouse that will bless them in some way. It grows as you speak well of him/her to coworkers, church members, children and friends. It never brings focus upon their negative characteristics, only the positive. It doesn’t mean we have to ignore their faults, but we should, as we spend time praying for them daily.

By doing this we are building up our spouse, not only to others, but to them as well. The cycle grows in an interesting way—feeding not only the one you are blessing, but you as well. In fact, the blessing we receive begins a positive feedback loop to us and to them, causing it to grow on its own—and the cycle begins.

As you may imagine, this will not be easily thwarted, and over time provides immunity against the vicious cycle—the two cannot coexist.

I highly recommend the virtuous cycle of marriage. It takes time to build, but once it develops a life of its own, it is unstoppable. It is what God wants us to be doing in our marriages—building one another up.